Curledup.com contributor Brenda A. Snodgrass interviewed Jim Michael Hansen,
author of the newly released Fatal Laws,
who talked about his admiration for blue-collar America, the joys and
difficulties of writing first-person narrative, and the need of today's society
to create heroes.
Interviewer Brenda A. Snodgrass: In the Laws thrillers, how much of your protagonist is you?
Jim Michael Hansen: Detective Bryson Coventry, the 34-year-old head of Denverís homicide unit, returns in each Laws thriller. He is a world-class hunter of bad guys who also just happens to attract the most beautiful women on the planet. In each Laws book, he meets a new, mysterious, unique woman, and a relationshipóusually an intense, wild relationship--ensues. Internally, heís a live-and-let-live kind of guy, with an appreciation for humor, coffee, painting, mid-year Corvettes and the Beatles; which is basically a reflection of me.
What triggers your story lines?
I first come up with a general idea for the book, which typically takes the form of a one-page diagram. I then develop the backstory and figure out what the big twists will be at the end of the book. Then I drop the characters into the book on page one with the backstory already in motion. Some people donít believe me when I say this, but itís trueóthe characters pretty much write the book after that; they react to things, they raise questions, they get themselves into jams, outside forces impact them, etc. I pretty much let them go where they want so long as they stay within the general boundaries of the basic story. I follow them around and write down what theyíre doing, sort of like a human tape recorder. The characters usually donít know where theyíre going which means that Iím even more clueless. It somehow always comes together in the end.
If you couldnít write thrillers, what would you write?
My name in the sand on a warm beach, preferably with a drink in hand. Thatís about it. Iím really not interested in any other genres, not that I have anything against them.
Knowing that we all have a masculine and feminine side, how much of your female protagonists, such as Taylor Sutton in Shadow Laws, is you?
Iím a believer that thereís a little bit of the author in every character that the author creates, no matter whether the author is male or female, or whether the character is male or female, or whether the character is good or evil. The key is to make the character real to the reader. Having been a lawyer for more than 20 years, I have been able to meet people from all walks of life and get the behind-the-scenes stories. This has allowed me to make my characters three-dimensional and vibrant. I have also done a lot of traveling, so Iím able to fly my characters around the county and set up realistic scenes outside Denver.
What about writing appeals to you?
The most important thing an author can do is to not waste the readerís time. After all, the author is asking the reader to spend 6 or 7 or 8 hours of his/her life listening to what the author has to say. Thatís asking a lot and itís the authorís responsibility to give an equal amount in return. What I like about writing more than anything is getting feedback from a reader in the nature of ďYeah, baby!Ē
How has publishing the Laws books changed your life?
Iíve met a lot of wonderful people that I wouldnít have otherwise met. That always counts for something.
What is your favorite book and author?
Being a full-time attorney as well as an author, I donít have time to tie my shoes. So, unfortunately, I havenít been able to pick up a novel in many, many years; not that I wouldnít like to. Once in a while Iíll stop in a bookstore, pull a book off the shelf, open it to a random page and read a paragraph. Thatís about the extent of my reading. The good news is that I donít get ideas from anyone else or become enamored with anyone elseís writing style. My style stays my own, for better or worse.
After your Bryson Coventry novels, whatís next?
Iíve committed to writing ten Bryson Coventry thrillers, with two to be released each year from 2006 to 2010. So far I have completed the six books that will be released in the first three years (2006 Night Laws, Shadow Laws) (2007 Fatal Laws, Deadly Laws) (2008 Bangkok Laws, Immortal Laws). After Iíve written all ten books, Iíll decide whether to continue the series or start a fresh one. Fortunately, lots of characters have appeared in the Laws books which are strong enough to carry their own series. Shalifa Netherwood comes to mind.
Can you tell us anything about your next Laws thriller?
The third Laws novel, Fatal Laws, comes out June 1, 2007. In that book, several women are found buried in shallow graves near one another, each murdered in a brutally different way. Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry investigates and gets pulled into the edgy world of Tianca Hollandóa woman involved enough to be a prime suspect, vulnerable enough to be the next victim, and beautiful enough to be more than just a distraction. Complete information on all of the Laws novels can be found on my website,
JimHansenBooks.com. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts on these subjects. Itís a pleasure to be interviewed by such a fine organization as Curled Up.
Jim Michael Hansen, a Colorado attorney, is the author of the "Laws" thrillers, including Night Laws, Shadow Laws, Fatal Laws, Deadly Laws, Bangkok Laws and Immortal Laws.
Contributing reviewer Brenda A. Snodgrass interviewed Jim Michael Hansen, author of Fatal Laws, Shadow Laws, and Night Laws (see accompanying review), about
her book for curledup.com. Brenda A. Snodgrass/2007.